Our whole lives have been upended in the matter of a few days. With ODU closing its doors, extending spring break, and going virtual for the rest of the semester, our sense of normalcy has been completely changed. We’re all feeling the strain of stress, confusion, and concern as we’re preparing for social distancing. We’re changing where or how we live. No one really truly knows when this will all calm down.
For me (Caitlin), this week has felt like water falling from a sieve as my very people-oriented role as campus minister has transformed without any people around. In times like this, it can be quite easy to focus on the water that has fallen from the sieve, to focus on what was lost. No more dinners full of belly-laughing, no more peaceful group mid-day prayer, no more joyful retreats. But as I am still trying to orient myself to this new world, I am reminded to investigate the sieve, to see what is left after the water of people and meetings and events rushed out. In this stressful time, I am reminded of a verse I memorized so so long ago:
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NRSV
I don’t know what the next few weeks or even next few months will look like. I don’t know what this means for our community, our economy, or our loved ones. What I do know is that even in this time of stress, this time of concern, and this time of anxiety, that God’s love remains.
So what does this mean for our lives? For our time now stuck in our homes, our apartments? This means that the love of God in Christ Jesus is with us. God’s love is with us while we’re bored, or making grandiose plans, or trying not to kill those we are confined with. This means that God’s love is ever-present at this time. With God’s love being so accessible, so present, we can still pray; we can still learn; we can still grow, and most importantly we can still hope.
During coronavirus, we have a choice, as always, to ignore the love of God or to embrace that love. My encouragement to you all is to use this time well. To be proactive in seeking God’s love even if your normal life patterns have changed. Take on a new prayer practice or join your local church online in worship. Find time to sit in silence with God or to wrestle with difficult scriptures.
We now have an abundance of time. Why not use it to return to the wellspring of life? Why not choose to view this time at home as a gift, as an opportunity to reset? Our normal lives are at breakneck speeds of more, more, more. Now we have this opportunity to rest, and to rest in God’s love. Join me in this choice of God’s love over fear.